Old Warren Hill
The reason for choosing to discuss this project over any other of my crawling performances in this research seminar was because this project is bookended by two antithetical modes of materiality. On the one end a physical experience so real, visceral, vibrant and intense that it has left an indelible mark upon, and in, my body, and on the other a cybernetic organism made from a process of duplication, mirroring and inversion, a creature that continues to stalk the pathways of the digital wilderness.
From 4.00pm on Saturday 1st August to 4.00pm on Sunday 2nd August I became a human/animal/technological hybrid, I temporarily became an ‘it’ an – other, an alliance, a symbiotic union, a co- creating community, an interconnected future. When I entered the “turbulent, immanent field” of the forest floor “in which various and variable materialities collide, congeal, morph, evolve and disintegrate” to quote Michael Serres in his book The Birth of Physics, I directly explored material entanglement.
Crawl 9 – 12.00pm – I am back in the rhythm and familiarity of crawling again, it feels fantastic to be down there, on my hands and knees. Doris the Hungarian badger head is staying on my back in her glass dome, it hasn’t come apart or broken, yet!. The wood, a hopelessly inadequate all-encompassing noun, has started to reveal itself, unpeeling leaf by leaf; biting bracken, thick waterlogged moss, peeling lichen, ivy, unfurling ferns, leaf litter, hair grass, crackling branches…woody piece by woody piece woodily presenting itself in sharp focus, all of us enveloped by a lingering wall of warm air. My consciousness is fractured, each GoPro camera strapped to my trunk, limbs, head, hands, mouth are looking for me, catching me, splintered. My body in black lycra, plunging and plundering, belligerent, brave and badger. I am moving out of humanness with every knee step.
Crawl 12 – 3:00am – I am, in, I am becoming-Wood, I am becoming-Badger, and I am sick – all of God’s slimy, multiple legged, eight headed, winged, bulging eyed creatures crawling between my bare fingers, it is abject, wretched but exhilarating.
Crawl 17 – 8.00am – Five layers of foam in the knee pads now, Doris is getting heavier. Our night wood is becoming less opaque, quickly, bathing in flirtatious, fickle dappled light, it betrayed us. I am already longing for the secrets of the nocturnal wood, the thicker smells, the deeper sounds and the richer tastes. But I also want to cry with pain, and more than anything I want to sleep.
Crawl 24 – 3.00pm – Time to go underground with the Badgers now, or time vto go home for a bath and an inspection of my scratches and wounds, I choose the latter. But I leave our camp knowing that for a few otherly minutes, in the deepest, darkest wood last night, I think, I possibly, slightly, almost.. crawled out of being human and into becoming something else.
Now, roaming in the digital wood, We are cyborg, we are feral. Hauled through day then night then day again, glimpsed by the red flickering cameras’ lights. We are a mass of disembodied limbs, a distorted head, a sucking insect. Lost and found in a digital forever, appearing and disappearing as the timeline carries us, makes us and swallows us.
Simon Whitehead wrote in his essay Crawling not Walking for Crossed Paths – Sheep, 2018;
“Perhaps Miranda through her crawls is also physically modelling something for us: an invitation to enmesh, to heft again. To bring our bodies to the ground, to each other, to animal. The animal agent teaches us again how to belong, to be in, on and around…to bodily know, and practice our place again, amongst the weave of things”.
To loosely quote Jane Bennet from her book Vibrant Matter I believe it is necessary to “cut off the human upper hand and change our earth destroying fantasies of conquest and consumption”
In my own words, it is time to get down and to get materially entangled in what matters, the matter, again.
Photo animations and photographs © Hannah Mann 2019, film stills © Miranda Whall 2019